Triathlete Arwa Al-Amoudi racing to raise awareness of growing sport

Special Triathlete Arwa Al-Amoudi racing to raise awareness of growing sport
Arwa Al-Amoudi is a triathlete and Head of the Women's Committee at the Saudi Arabian Triathlon Federation. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 09 June 2022

Triathlete Arwa Al-Amoudi racing to raise awareness of growing sport

Triathlete Arwa Al-Amoudi racing to raise awareness of growing sport
  • Head of the women’s committee at the Saudi Arabian Triathlon Federation has been tasked with finding the next generation of local stars
  • Arwa Al-Amoudi: Just because of its (triathlon’s) diversity, you never get bored, every day you have different training in different sports

In Saudi Arabia triathlon may be a relatively new sport — or three sports in one — but it’s quickly catching on in a country where people are increasingly encouraged to shed a sedentary lifestyle and take up physical activities.

There’s no better promotor for the sport, among females and males, than Arwa Al-Amoudi, head of the women’s committee at the Saudi Arabian Triathlon Federation, and a triathlete herself.

“I started triathlon in 2017. Before that, I used to be a runner. I was the kind of person who would overtrain myself, and then I would get injuries,” she said. “But when I heard about the sport of triathlon, you know you have to swim, cycle and run, I said, okay, let me try it. And that’s the reason I tried triathlon from 2017, and then I got hooked on it. Just because of its diversity, you never get bored, every day you have different training in different sports.”

While running remains her strongest discipline, Al-Amoudi has now embraced all aspects of the triathlon.

“Actually, each one of them gives me a different kind of enjoyment,” the 35-year-old Jeddah resident said. “But if we’re talking about specifics, I would say it (running) is the easiest for me to improve, just because I have a longer history in it, years of running. Not only that, but also my body build, I tend to be petite and small, so it’s just easier for me to get faster and faster relative to people who are bigger in shape and density.”

Arguably, swimming is the hardest of the three sports to excel at for most newcomers.

“I would agree with that,” said Al-Amoudi. “Swimming I would say, if the person doesn’t have that basic foundation, from a younger age, it would be a bit harder to develop at an older age. But here we are, I started swimming at a later age, and what I had to do is just invest more time, of course, in swimming, relative to other people who have been swimming for years and years. But then, at the end of the day, if you are consistent, and this is the beauty of triathlon … it’s all about consistency, if you are consistent about it, then you will see the improvement.”

Al-Amoudi’s role at the national umbrella body has two main objectives.

“First is to spread awareness about the sport of triathlon, specifically among the female community, and in general among the whole community,” she said. “The second thing is, of course, we want to recruit talented females with the focus on the younger generation, because we have a long-term vision of having people represent us overseas, where they can also win and get podiums one day.”

With these medium-to-long term plans in place, the federation last month set up a 21-day training camp for 10 of its most promising triathletes, six male and four female.

The choice of Abha was very deliberate, Al-Amoudi said.

“It was three weeks in duration and the reason it was in Abha is because it is different than other cities,” she said. “Most of our athletes, they come from either the west region, in Jeddah or Riyadh, and Al-Sharqiyah. There are a few who live at altitude, but the majority they live in these major cities. The thing is that with these cities, they are at sea level and then when you go to Abha, it’s at a higher altitude.”

“So when you train at a higher altitude both the air pressure and density decreases, which makes it harder for the lungs, or which makes it harder to take in oxygen,” she added. “So we are taking these athletes to train at a higher altitude, so they can train their lungs to improve their oxygen intake. So when they race at sea level it becomes much easier.”

“As long as our athletes get the benefit of this, and then they leverage these trainings, I believe that they will see a marginal benefit in the short term and also in the long term.”

Already, Al-Amoudi sees a rising interest in the sport, despite its relative infancy, in particular among females.

“Actually, we already see the sport is growing, because (of) the local initiatives. Also with the support of the federation and the events that they are doing all year long, you see from one event to another an increase in participation,” she said. “You will also see diversity, whether it’s local or expat, whether it’s female or male. The beauty of triathlon, it’s an individual sport yet you can still do it in a team, or relay team.”

“Sometimes we see a family join as a team. So the son would be swimming, the father would be cycling and the wife or the daughter would be running.”

It’s all about building a community of triathletes, something the federation is keen to promote at grassroots level.

“Of course, this is part of our long-term plan,” she said. “As of now we are trying to build the community, and find the talent and of course, getting our triathletes to get the exposure. The good thing the federation is doing (are) the races, locally. So people are getting the feeling of how these races are contested and there they are getting the exposure, of racing with different people. Not only this, but also our athletes, some of them, are racing overseas and with this they will (be) building their experience.”

At a more competitive level, Al-Amoudi is keen to highlight that while there are events in the GCC and across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is increasingly holding enough races for its growing population of triathletes.

“Yes, and there are competitions at a regional level, but also when we look at a local level here within the Kingdom, the federation has been doing an amazing job, and in Q4 we have multiple races for all people here, and the beauty of it is that it’s in all locations,” she said. “So in Q4, we will have a race in Jeddah, and we will have a race in Riyadh, and we will have races in the eastern region as well.

“Sometimes, of course, people want to participate regionally and globally, or outside the Kingdom, but where the federation has done an amazing job is by providing or contesting races here at the local level. So a person like me, I don’t need to travel multiple times outside Saudi Arabia just to race. When I want to race more, I can get the experience … by racing right here.”


Saudi weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem wins 3 silvers at Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem wins 3 silvers at Islamic Solidarity Games
Updated 9 sec ago

Saudi weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem wins 3 silvers at Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem wins 3 silvers at Islamic Solidarity Games
  • Kingdom’s handball team reaches semifinals after topping group

KONYA: Weightlifter Siraj Al-Saleem on Friday claimed three more medals for Saudi Arabia at the fifth edition of the Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey.

Al-Saleem’s three silver medals came in the 61 kilogram division after he managed a lift of 123 kilograms in the Snatch category, 154 kilograms in the Clean and Jerk, and a points total of 277 to finish second overall.

Saudi’s medal tally on Friday night stood at 15, with one gold, 10 silvers and four bronzes.

Al-Saleem’s teammate Nawaf Al-Mazeedi finished seventh overall in the under-67 kilogram competition with a points total of 296 (136 in Snatch, 160 in Clean and Jerk).

In the women’s weightlifting competition, Saudi’s Al-Anoud Al-Shehri took sixth place in the 59 kilogram division with a total of 141 points, a new personal record.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia reached the semifinals of the handball competition after playing out a 27-27 draw with Qatar in their final group match.

With that result, the Kingdom qualified to the last four as group winners on goal difference, and will now face hosts Turkey on Saturday evening.

Qatar will meet Iran in the other semifinal.


Omar Al-Somah departs Al-Ahli as Saudi Pro League legend

Omar Al-Somah departs Al-Ahli as Saudi Pro League legend
Updated 13 min 45 sec ago

Omar Al-Somah departs Al-Ahli as Saudi Pro League legend

Omar Al-Somah departs Al-Ahli as Saudi Pro League legend
  • The highest-scoring foreign striker in the league’s history has joined Al-Arabi of Qatar on loan after the Jeddah club’s relegation

Meeting Omar Al-Somah at the 2019 Asian Cup, I asked him what ambitions he had remaining in his career with his 30th birthday fast approaching.

“I just want to score as many goals as possible and help my club and country win as many games as possible,” he replied. He may feel some regret about not appearing at the World Cup with Syria, but when it comes to his club career his achievements will one day be seen as legendary.

There are always headlines and attention given to the big-name foreign strikers who come to the Saudi Professional League, and understandably so. The likes of Odion Ighalo and Bafetimbi Gomis arrived in the country with resumes full of international appearances and spells with big clubs in big leagues. Yet, there are forwards from other Arab nations that come and score more and do so for longer. Abderrazak Hamdallah is one. The Moroccan marksman has played just 82 league games in Saudi Arabia for Al-Nassr and now Al-Ittihad and has found the target an incredible 87 times.

And then there is Al-Somah, the most consistent of all. No foreign striker has scored as many in the history of the SPL and, after joining Al-Ahli in 2014, he has finally departed and joined Al-Arabi on loan for one season, a deal that will cost the Qatari club what will surely be a bargain amount of $3.2 million.

It was only following Al-Ahli’s shock relegation last season that he left.

The second tier is no place for a player of such talents and there were plenty of offers from across the region but Al-Ahli preferred a loan move.

That is because his statistics are something special. Al-Somah played 240 games in all competitions for the Jeddah giants and scored an amazing 192 goals and contributed 30 assists. His 144 league goals are a record for a foreign player. The only other non-Saudi star in the top 10 all-time goalscorers is Hamdallah. 

From 2014 to 2017, the striker from the east of Syria won the Golden Boot in three consecutive seasons. His goals played a big part in Al-Ahli winning their fourth title in 2016 as well as bringing other trophies such as the Saudi Super Cup, the King’s Cup and the Saudi Crown Prince Cup to the Red Sea Port.

It is with a heavy heart that he leaves his home of almost a decade.

“I played eight years with Al-Ahli,” he said. “During that time I helped win the league championship and was the league’s top scorer three times, but the most important thing is the collective achievement. I leave Al-Ahly after such a long time and it comes as a shock but I will try my best to adapt to my new team.”

“I know Al-Arabi Club and I am honored to play in the Qatari league and I hope to leave an imprint with the team,” Al-Somah said. 

He should do just that. Before arriving in Saudi Arabia, he scored plenty of goals for his hometown club of Al-Fotuwa before moving to Kuwaiti giants Al-Qadsia in 2011, where he continued to score almost a goal a game over three seasons.

It is testament to the quality of Al-Somah’s marksmanship that a total of 22 goals over the past two seasons seems relatively small.

By that time, Al-Ahli were fading as a force and the warnings that came with the mid-table finish in the 2020-21 season were not heeded, or at least, not dealt with adequately. With Al-Ahli struggling, there was not as much possession and control in games and fewer chances were created. The striker has slowed a little as he passed his 33rd birthday and the power is not quite as explosive. 

He will still score for a while yet but whatever happens, the Syrian leaves Saudi Arabia as a legend. Had Al-Ahli maintained their standards, he could have become the record goalscorer in the Asian Champions League though as it stands, his 25 means that he is number seven on the all-time list. 

Al-Somah also leaves a reminder that it is not all about buying players from South American, English Premier League or Ligue 1 clubs.

He arrived from Kuwait back in 2014 when few would have predicted that he would last so many seasons and score so many goals for Al-Ahli. As deals go, it wasn’t seen as the biggest or the most exciting but it has been one of the most successful.

In fact, it has been legendary and whether he returns to terrorize Saudi Arabian defenses again or not, Omar Al-Somah will never be forgotten.


Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons
Updated 13 August 2022

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons
  • Falcon Arena and Falcon District will feature activities for gaming enthusiasts

RIYADH: Gamers8 has announced that Team Falcons, Saudi Arabia’s biggest esports outfit, will have its own dedicated space at the Riyadh event until the end of the season.

Fresh from a second-place finish in “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege,” Team Falcons are now set for more acknowledgment by having two dedicated areas at the event, which runs daily at Boulevard Riyadh City until Sept. 8.

The first area is the Falcon Arena, which features gaming tournaments, meet-and-greet activities with influencers and content creators, as well as a live cooking show. The second area, the Falcon District, features merchandise, a gaming PC center, a museum that showcases the team’s accomplishments, an academy titled “Learn to be a PRO,” as well as a streaming area.

Mosaad Al-Dossary, FIFA eWorld Cup winner and CEO of Team Falcons, said: “Team Falcons are delighted to play such a distinguished role in the unprecedented success of Gamers8. It has been an incredible season at Boulevard Riyadh City so far, packed with outstanding esports play — and not least from Team Falcons.

“The addition of the Falcon Arena and Falcon District to the plethora of entertainment activities at Gamers8 is certain to encourage those who have yet to attend the event, as well as usher back those who want more. The Saudi Esports Federation is responsible for nurturing elite gaming athletes and developing the gaming community and industry in Saudi Arabia, and Team Falcons is both honored and thrilled to be part of this latest initiative in doing so. We look forward to seeing everyone.”

Both the Falcon Arena and Falcon District are open daily from 6 p.m. until midnight.


Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman
Updated 13 August 2022

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman
  • Dutch center-half likely to start on the bench again with Dan Burn facing former club Brighton at the Amex Stadium

NEWCASTLE: Star summer signing Sven Botman’s Newcastle United development will not be rushed, insists head coach Eddie Howe.

The Netherlands youth international has so far been the Magpies’ stand-out signing of the summer, having arrived on a $36-million deal from Lille on July 1.

Howe, though, opted not to hand the 22-year-old his full debut on the opening day against Nottingham Forest, instead retaining his central defensive partnership from last season, Dan Burn and Fabian Schar.

Ajax academy graduate Botman did get his first taste of Premier League action off the bench, however, as a 90th-minute sub.

“The more training time we can get into Sven, the better,” Howe said.

“But every situation is very unique. You can never blueprint because that changes within seconds sometimes.

“The more training, the more he gets to understand how we want him to play and his teammates around him will serve him very well.

“I’ve been very pleased with him in pre-season. Him not playing (against Forest) wasn’t a reflection on his performances, he’s been excellent.

“As I said after the game, it was about keeping continuity in our backline that performed very well during the back end of last season.

“Sven’s got a huge part to play.”

The Magpies head to Brighton and Hove Albion today, looking to make it two top-flight wins out of two.

They face a side, though, who recorded their first win at Old Trafford against Manchester United, and who have one of the most respected managers in the English game, Graham Potter.

“Brighton are a very unique team. When you play them, you have a huge challenge on your hands,” Howe said.

“Tactically, I think they’re excellent — Graham (Potter) has done an amazing job there and it’s well documented how innovative and forward-thinking he is.

“Watching the game against Manchester United was a really interesting one from a tactical viewpoint so we’re going to be challenged.

“Every game is different in the Premier League but this one is a big challenge and we’re going to need to respond to it. It’s very different to Nottingham Forest — we’re away but we have prepared for Brighton and hope we can impose our style on them.”

One of Newcastle’s stand-out players from last term started 2021/22 as a Seagulls’ player.

Center-half Burn was a revelation for Howe after making the January switch north — and the head coach is expecting more of the same at the Amex Stadium this afternoon.

He said: “Dan’s an incredible professional. He’s been outstanding for us since he signed for the football club.

“I know it will be a big day for him and probably an emotional day in some ways, going back to a club that he’s performed very well at and consistently performing at a high level.

“I’m sure he’ll get a good reception and welcome for everything he gave Brighton.

“He has been a real presence in the training ground and a very calming influence. He’s got good experiences in the game and has never had it easy.

“He’s had to graft to get into the position he’s in now and he’s not prepared to let that go easily. He’s very popular in the dressing room and the lads look up to him.”


Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
Updated 13 August 2022

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
  • Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead
  • Despite missing the cut, Scheffler and McIlroy, at least, get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it

MEMPHIS, Tennessee: J.J. Spaun hopes he’s only getting started on the road to the FedEx Cup finale. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will have to wait another week.

As for Jason Day, his season is over.

Spaun made a late birdie for a 3-under 67 to take a one-shot lead Friday in the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the opening event in the PGA Tour postseason that no longer has three of its biggest stars for the weekend at the TPC Southwind.

Scheffler, the Masters champion and No. 1 player for the last five months, never quite recovered from what he could only describe as an “out-of-body experience” with his putting in the first round. He had birdie chances on two of the last three holes he couldn’t convert and his 68 was one shot short of making the weekend.

“Obviously, it’s really frustrating coming into the playoffs,” Scheffler said. “I was practicing really hard at home, actually playing really good, and I showed up and had the worst putting day ever. Golf smacks you in the face sometimes.”

McIlroy went from rough to gallery to fringe to bogey on his last hole for a 69 for only his second missed cut of the year. Spieth’s hopes of playing the weekend ended with a tee shot into the water on the par-3 14th that led to a 74.

At least they get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it.

Day opened with a 65 and was hopeful of a big finish to advance into the top 70 who made it to the next playoff event. Instead, the former world No. 1 dropped five shots over the last eight holes, shot 74 and missed the cut by one shot.

Day was among 31 players who started outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and missed the cut, meaning their season is over.

Rickie Fowler, who came in at No. 125, ended the back nine (double bogey) and front nine (bogey) poorly and shot 71. He was tied for 33rd, around for two more days but needing to contend to advance.

Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead.

He was one shot ahead of Sepp Straka, who birdied his last three holes for a 66, and Troy Merritt, who had a 65. Merritt started at No. 64 in the standings, so this was just what he needed to make sure he would be moving on.

With a clear sky, hot sun and a little more wind, Spaun was as proud of his 67 on Friday as his 64 the day before. Mostly, he feels his game his coming around after going into a lull following his first PGA Tour title at the Valero Texas Open in early April.

“It’s so hard to be consistently good at the highest level. Some guys that do it like that, like Tiger and McIlroy and all those guys. It’s just insane how good they are for so long,” Spaun said. “I did it for a few months and then kind of fell off, but here I am kind of making my way back.”

Straka knows the feeling. He had not made it to the weekend since the Memorial in early June. And then he opened with rounds of 64-66.

“Hadn’t played great coming into this week. Missed a bunch of cuts coming in,” Straka said (in his case, “a bunch” would be six in a row). “But that’s golf. You’re going to have the ebbs and flows and just kind go with it.”

And off he went, especially at the end, when he finished with three straight birdies to get to 10 under.

Tony Finau, coming off two straight victories, had his 11th consecutive round at 68 or lower dating to the final round of the British Open. His 68 on Friday left him three behind.

Spaun didn’t feel as though he had much of a lead — one shot, not to mention 15 players within four shots of the lead and 36 holes still to play.

“It’s anyone’s weekend, and it’s going to mine,” he said playfully.

The first part for so many players was getting to the weekend, and two players who seized on the opportunity were Ryan Palmer and Lucas Glover.

Palmer is at No. 110 in the FedEx Cup, shot 67 and joined Finau, British Open champion Cam Smith (65) and others at 8-under 132.

Glover is No. 121. Even with a bogey on his final hole, his 68 put him four shots out of the lead.